Day 9 total and day three of yet another excellent wet morning. Not much fog to speak of. We are going into the place where Gary walked for 2 hours and found the fresh tracks that had just been made. The elk we are looking for has been living in this area for more than one year. He has old beds, new beds, old rubs, new rubs all strewn about the area.
We found his tracks that lead out of the timber and into the reprod (probably his “safe place” for years and why he went there when he winded Gary). We stop and listen, but some disturbance in the trail caught my eye. Up ahead a ways, this chunk of mud was in the trail. I traced it back to the embankment on the reprod side. It fell off his hoof when he crossed back into the timber. Bingo! We know that this is where he returned to.
We decide to hunker down under this fir tree and just sit and listen. It’s perfect because you can see down in the timber bowl for 150 to 200 yards. The sound of our cow call should carry well.
We sat for quite a while and just listened. Lots of sounds from other forest creatures, coupled with the heavy rain drops dripping from the canopy above. No bull yet. We decided to move over.
Not but maybe 100 feet from where we sat we came upon last night’s bed. Parts if the middle were still dry. We got down to touch and smell the area. Yep! Elky!! He’s a big, frustrated bull. No other sign in the area so there are no cows there. But this is his safe zone. He must have been back in the wet, thick reprod. Either way, we needed to finish this hike. I need to learn this hike quickly so that I can do it by myself, or, if we do out him down, I can get to one of the trucks we have staged with packs and bags.
Too late in the afternoon for another hunt. We are going to plan a different approach to that area for our morning hunt. Many of the weekend warrior hunters left last night and this morning so the woods will be down to minimal hunters soon. It should stop raining tonight. Animals should start moving about more normally soon. And we find another bed, then another, and many more. He’s living here…but not when it’s unsafe. We find all sorts of ages of rubs, too.
Another day if immense training for me. When we looked at some tracks in the road, I could read the “story” they told. A bull came up onto the road from below, rubbed the hell out of a bush on the other side, then went back downhill from where we came. Gary said “I’ve never heard of an elk acting like that. Let’s take a look.” And sure enough, he said that he couldn’t argue with that assessment. You could clearly determine the entry tracks vs the exit tracks. It’s so exciting to know that I can truly read and asses the scene. After stopping a few more time under cover to stop, listen, and cow call, we know that the jig is up. It’s time for us to leave and start over tomorrow.
The nice part about having a guide like Gary who knows the area is that he shows me so many interesting things. Like the many old, old salt licks that people used to have. The animals just lick the stumps raw and the dirt down to the rocks.
Here is a block stake.